City Council discusses 2017-18 budget proposal

By Chris Eversole, Contributing Writer

For the first time in seven years, the City of Mustang expects to have a balanced budget.
At Monday’s special city council meeting, City Manager Tim Rooney presented his budget proposal for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, which begins July 1.
“Great job,” Vice Mayor Jess Schweinberg said. “I even enjoyed reading the budget.”
During the previous six years, Mustang dipped into reserves to make ends meet.
“We had ice storms that caused expense in two of those years,” Rooney noted.
The budget projects a .5 percent increase in sales tax revenue. Rooney said this is a conservative projection.
The city has experienced a 1.9 percent increase in sales tax collections this year. This contrasts to most surrounding cities, where sale tax collections are down.
“People are staying in Mustang to shop,” Rooney said. “Although this is good news, we’re nervous about counting on the 1.9 percent, so we’re budgeting less.”
The city is also expecting some additional revenue because it began receiving sales tax from Amazon on March 1. Only direct purchases from Amazon, not those from vendors listed on Amazon, are charged sales tax.
The $21.9 million budget proposal projects a $2 million ending fund balance. The budget calls for adding one police officer and one firefighter. These are among the enhancements due to the 13-year renewal of the fourth penny sales tax that voters approved in August.
The major capital improvements will be widening of portions of Sara Road, Mustang Road and S.W. 89th Street.
Work will continue on a new playground at the Town Center, which is being built in partnership with the Mustang Parks Foundation. In addition to raising money, foundation volunteers helped in construction.
An expansion of the Town Center, which includes two new gyms and an aerobics room, will be completed.
The city will also continue expansion of its sewer plant and make improvements to a water tower, Finance Director Janet Watts noted.
The budget calls for a 3 percent merit pay increase for employees. Employee health care costs are projected to increase 7.4 percent. The city will not pass on the $63,000 that this increase costs.
The city can stay below the national increase in health care costs because it is a member of the of the Oklahoma Public Employees Health and Welfare Consortium, Rooney said.
This is the third budget that Rooney has prepared since becoming city manager.
“I hire people and let them do their job,” he said. “I balanced the budget by having them look at needs, not wants.”
Council will host a work session on the budget at 6 p.m. today in Rooms C and D of the Mustang Town Center.
The budget hearing, at which time the budget will be approved, will be at 7 p.m. June 6 at the same location.

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